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n.10 spring/summer 2005

n.9 - Spring/Summer 2005

n.8 autumn/winter 2004

n.7 spring/summer 2003

n.6 winter 2003

The Carnival of Values... Life despite capitalism... Commons, Autonomy, War... Imposed Scarcity What alternatives?

n.5 autumn 2000

n.4 - may 2002

n.3 - jan 2002

n.2 sept 2001

n.1 may 2001

crises Enclosures, power, commons Reclaming the body Enclosures... First Commoner


reviews letters


previous issues

ground zero



Iain Boal & Michael Watts. The Liberal International. A Review of David Harvey A Brief History of Neoliberalism

reviews are the result of an action, the action of reviewing. To review is to view again, examine or study again, look back on, take a retrospective view, give critical evaluation, pause and reflect, think. Here we review books, struggles, texts, images, and more.

letters In this section we collect written messages addressed to people or organisations in order to raise issues, voice concerns and in the attempt to establish some clarity in our thoughts.



Massimo De Angelis. There is no Alternative versus There are Many Alternatives. A review of Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar and Peter Waterman (eds.) 2004. World Social Forum. Challenging Empires New Delhi: The Viveka Foundation. 402 pp. (London distribution: Global Book Marketing).


International debate on John Holloway's book, Change the World without Taking Power.

Peter Waterman. The Excessively Post-Communist Manifesto of George Monbiot

Peter Waterman. The International Labour Movement Between Geneva, Brussels, Seattle/Porto Alegre and...Utopia?

Werner Bonefeld. A Note on Cyril Smith. One of the editor of  What is to be done? Leninism, Anti-Leninist Marxism and the question of revolution today replies to one reviewer.  

Cyril Smith on `Anti-Leninism is not enough'. A review of   What is to be done? Leninism, Anti-Leninist Marxism and the question of revolution today. Edited by Werner Bonefeld and Sergio Tischler. Ashgate, 2002.

Time to revolt. Reflections on Empire  by John Holloway

Cyril Smith reviews  Change the World without Taking Power, by John Holloway

Richard Barbrook on The Napsterisation of Everything: a review of John Alderman, Sonic Boom: Napster, P2P and the battle for the future of music, Fourth Estate, London 2001

Gender and Globalization: Where, Now, are the Women, the Feminists…and the Movement? Peter Waterman reviews 'Globalisation and Gender', Signs, Vol. 26, No. 4, Summer 2001. Special Issue.

How to Successfully Take Exams… and Partially Remake the World? Peter Waterman reviews Bertell Ollman's latest book.

In the first of two parts article, Boris Kagarlitsky tells the story of Prague 2000: the People's Battle. In the second part, Lessons of Prague, he discusses the issues of violence, media, and the need for the movements to pull energies together for a positive agenda.

Peter Waterman offers sixteen propositions on International Labour Networking.



Interview with Evo Morales (president of the coca farmers' federation in Chapare, Bolivia) by Yvonne Zimmermann 

Back in the days of the 'War Against Communism' in Vietnam, a US cartoon character called Pogo, said, 'I have seen the enemy and he is us'. Why does Pogo have no monument in  Washington DC? Peter Waterman tells us in Aliens "Я" Us™ (not to mention U.S.)

10 July 2001.. Robin Goodfellow comments on the last two letters with some thoughts on form and content

24 June 2001. Goblin comments on El Viejo's letter, and reflects on the "future in the present", the question of "violence", and current strategies within the counter-globalization movement.

21 June  2001. El Viejo writes to the movement he is part of on Genoa, violence, a new world and respect for each-other.

25 May 2001. Goblin writes to Chris Harman, a British socialist, about the anti-capitalist movement.




The Commoner N.11 - Spring/Summer 2006

Re(in)fusing the Commons

Angela Mitropoulos, Autonomy, Recognition, Movement [.pdf]
Nick Dyer-Witheford, Species-Being and the New Commonism [.pdf]
Precarias a la Deriva, A Very Careful Strike - Four hypotheses [.pdf]
P.M., The golden globes of the planetary commons [.pdf]
George Ciccariello-Maher, Working-Class One-Sidedness from Sorel to Tronti  [.pdf]
Silvia Federici, The Restructuring of Social Reproduction in the United States in the 1970s [.pdf]
Ida Dominijanni, Heiresses at Twilight. The End of Politics and the Politics of Difference [.pdf]
The Commoner N.11   >>> COMPLETE.pdf <<< 

The Commoner N.10 - Spring/Summer 2005

The Carnival of Values 

and the Exchange Value of Carnival


David Graeber, Value as the Importance of Action [.pdf]
Massimo De Angelis, Value(s), Measure(s) and Disciplinary Markets... [.pdf]
George Caffentzis, Immeasurable Value?: An Essay on Marx's Legacy [.pdf]
Harry Cleaver, Work, Value and Domination [.pdf]
David Harvie, All Labour is Productive and Unproductive [.pdf]
Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Development and Reproduction [.pdf]
Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Dario De Bortoli, For Another Agriculture and Another Food Policy in Italy [.pdf]
Silvia Federici, Women's Land Struggles and the Valorization of Labour [.pdf]
 The Commoner N.10   >>> COMPLETE.pdf <<< 

The Commoner N.9 - Spring/Summer 2004

Life despite capitalism

The "virtual" and the "actual"


- James W. Lindenschmidt, From Virtual Commons To Virtual Enclosures: Revolution and Counter-Revolution In The Information Age [doc] [pdf] [sxw]
- Matthias Studer,  Gift and Free Software [doc] [pdf] [sxw]

- Ariel Salleh. Sustainability and Meta-Industrial Labour: Building a Synergistic Politics [doc] [.pdf

- Mercedes Moya, Some Common Goods: an Afro-colombian view [doc] [pdf
- Franco Barchiesi, Citizenship as Movement. Migrations, Social Control and the Subversion of State Sovereignty [doc] [pdf

- Amory Starr.  Hunting democracy down in Miami for free trade [htm]


The Commoner N.8 - Autumn/Winter 2004

Around Commons and Autonomy, War and Reproduction

- Paul Routledge, Convergence of Commons: Process Geographies of People’s Global Action  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- David Harvie, Commons and Communities in the University: Some Notes and Some Examples  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Werner Bonefeld, Uncertainty and Social Autonomy  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]

- Colectivo Situaciones, Causes and Happenstance (dilemmas of Argentina’s new social protagonism)  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]

- George Caffentzis, Freezing the Movement: Posthumous Notes on Nuclear War  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]

- Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Capitalism and Reproduction  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]


The Commoner N.7 - Spring/Summer 2003

The "governance" of Imposed Scarcity: 

Money, Enclosures and the Space of Co-operation


- George Caffentzis. The Power of Money: Debt and Enclosure. [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Matthew Hampton. The Return of Scarcity and the International Organisation of Money After the Collapse of Bretton Woods. [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Massimo De Angelis. Neoliberal Global Governance and Accumulation. [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Les Levidow. Governance of Genetically Modified Food. [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Andrew Robinson and Simon Tormey. New Labour’s neoliberal Gleichschaltung: the case of higher education.   [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]


The Commoner N.6 - Winter 2003

What alternatives? Commons and Communities, Dignity and Freedom!


- Massimo De Angelis. Reflections on Alternatives, Commons and Communities [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Olivier De Marcellus. Commons, Communities and Movements: Inside, Outside and Against Capital [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc] 
- Peter Waterman. All in Common. A New/Old Slogan for International Labour and Labour Internationalism  [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Franco Barchiesi. Communities between Commons and Commodities. Subjectivity and Needs in the Definition of New Social Movements [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]
- Mariarosa Dalla Costa.. Seven Good Reasons to Say "Locality" [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]

- Mariarosa Dalla Costa. The Native In Us, The Earth We Belong To [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]

- John Holloway. Is the Zapatista Struggle and Anti-Capitalist Struggle? [complete .pdf] - [complete .doc]


The Commoner N.5 - Autumn 2002



- Peter Bell & Harry Cleaver. Marx's Crisis Theory as a Theory of Class Struggle. [complete] - [preface 2002]
- Ana C. Dinerstein.  Beyond Insurrection. Argentina and New
- Conrad M. Herold. On Financial Crisis As A Disciplinary Device Of Empire: Emergence and Crisis Of The Crisis  [complete]
- George Caffentzis. On the Notion of a Crisis of Social Reproduction: A Theoretical Review  [complete]
- Werner Bonefeld. Class and EMU [complete]
- Steve Wright.  The Historiography of the Mass Worker [complete]


The Commoner N.4 - May 2002

Enclosures, power, commons


- John Holloway. Beyond Power. Chapter 3from "Change the world without taking power" [complete]
- John Holloway. Twelve  theses [complete]
- Ruth Rikowski. The Capitalisation of Libraries [complete]
- Richard Barbrook. The Regulation of Liberty: free speech, free trade and free gifts on the Net  [complete]


The Commoner n.3 - January 2002

Reclaming the Body


Silvia Federici. The Great Caliban The Struggle Against  the Rebel Body. [complete]

Cyril Smith. Marx, Hegel, the Enlightenment and Magic. [complete]
Nick Dyer-Witheford. Global Body, Global Brain/ Global Factory, Global War: Revolt of the Value-Subjects. [complete]
Les Levidow. Marketizing Higher Education: Neoliberal Strategies and Counter-Strategies. [complete]


The Commoner n.2 - September  2001

Enclosures: the mirror image of alternatives


Michael Perelman. The Secret History of Primitive Accumulation and Classical Political Economy.  [complete]

Midnight Notes Collective. New Enclosures [complete]

Silvia Federici. Debt crisis, Africa and the new enclosures [complete]

Massimo De Angelis. Marx and primitive accumulation: The continuous character of capital's "enclosures"- [complete]

Werner Bonefeld. The Permanence of Primitive Accumulation: Commodity Fetishism and Social Constitution   - [complete]]


The Commoner n.1 - May 2001



Electric new commons - Franco Barchiesi - Delivery From Below, Resistance From Above. Electricity and the Politics of Struggle for People's Needs in Tembisa  [complete]
Shall we kill the banks? - George Caffentzis. Varieties of Bancocide: Left and Right Critiques of the World Bank and IMF. [complete]
Flexibility for whom? - Anne Costello & Les Levidow - Flexploitation Strategies: UK Lessons for Europe. [complete]
The rat race disguised as freedom - Massimo De Angelis - Global Capital, Abstract Labour, and the Fractal-Panopticon. [complete]
War is on the agenda - Silvia Federici - War, Globalization, and Reproduction.  




From the global labour movement - 24 hours breaking news





The Commoner N.10

The Carnival of Values and the Exchange Value of Carnival

In this issue of The Commoner we are beginning to clear a path (or maybe several paths) out of the dust emerging from the front line, and try to make sense of what is the reason for the smoke and sparks. We see a strange phenomenon occurring: what we practice is often not what we value and what we value is often not what we practice (and in saying this let us not forget that “practice” means many diverse things: work, shopping, eating, filling forms, writing, taking the train, watching the telly, harvesting a crop, reading, struggling, changing nappies ... and each and one of these involve direct or indirect relations to the “other”).

Yet, anthropologists tell us, value is what guides our practices and the latter are in turn constituted by values. Could it be then that struggles are clashes among values and correspondent practices (value practices) and that what constitutes our daily existence is the front line, the battlefield? If this is the case, to be a “journal for other values” as
The Commoner proclaims is to attempt to recast politics in terms of values, that is a politics grounded in the aspiration emerging from struggles everywhere to reclaim social wealth as commons so as to live in dignity by practicing what we value. A politics of value is also what is behind David Graeber’s contribution who starts us up into our journey with an extract from his 2001 book (Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value) in which he argues the anthropological case for understanding value as the importance people attribute to action. He also writes an introductory essay on “the political metaphysics of stupidity,” in which he offers some reflections on how value theory (of the anthropological type, not of the political economic type) can shed light on such a phenomenon as Bush’s re-election.

The fact that struggles are clashes of value practices is not easily recognised by Marxist economists, who as soon the word “value” is pronounced, they talk to us about the correspondent “law” (of value) often accompanied by pages and pages of econometric regressions to “prove” its continuing relevance (as if the rat race we are compelled to take part in needs to be proved). On the other hand, many also think it is more appropriate to confine this “law” of capitalism to the bin of history, as irrelevant to explain contemporary capitalism and its post-modern multitudes. In the following four quite diverse contributions we indulge a little on this “law of value” and seek to reinterpret it so as to both grounding it in (and making relevant to) our many struggles and defend its relevance as a framework for the understanding of contemporary capitalism.

De Angelis here follows those who depart from this tradition that sees only capital and portrays us purely as victims. He sees the law of value in terms of ongoing struggles among value practices, struggles that are not only “out there”, but also traversing the subjects. He distances himself from both those writers who fetishise the labour theory of value by separating it from struggles, and those who dismiss the contemporary relevance of its measure imposed over the social body. For capital value cannot be beyond measure, he argues, because commodities' value are constituted through a continuous process of measurement of people's activity that keep us on our toes, whether we are “material” or “immaterial” workers, waged or unwaged. It is in this way that we reproduce scarcity while we could celebrate abundance. Similarly, in an older contribution published in 1989, Harry Cleaver confronts the argument of Clauss Offe and Toni Negri according to which Marx's theory of value is made obsolete by the historical evolution of capitalist accumulation. For Cleaver, while Offe is shortsighted in believing that in current capitalism work has been displaced from its central role of organising society, Negri's position on the obsolescence of the labour theory of value is predicated on the artificial separation between a concept of labour as producer of wealth and as means of domination, associating only the former with value. Also George Caffentzis intervenes on the question of the measure of value in contemporary capitalism with an essay on the legacy of Marx. He shows how modern capitalism still rely on “quantity” and “measure” and categories such as formal and real subsumption of labour have quantitative aspects in Marx's work that would make it impossible to use the notion while neglecting these aspects. David Harvie instead tackles another related subject, that of what labour is productive of value for capital. He argues that all labour, waged or unwaged, “material” or “immaterial”, is both productive and unproductive, because all labour become the realm of capitalist drive and hence is a terrain of struggle.

Conflicting value practices around land are underpinning the following article by
Mariarosa Dalla Costa, originally appeared in 1994, which discusses the expropriation of land and the putting a price on it as still two fundamental strategies to make a profit out of the Third Word today as they were in the origin of capitalism in Europe. These enclosures which are predicated on valuing land in monetary terms, are challenged by struggle of reappropriation which are “pregnant with a multitude of meanings.” Land in fact does not only refer to means of subsistence, although this is “excellent reason” for a movement of re-appropriation. It means and is also valued for a plurality of other reasons. Reflecting on eco-feminist practices “linking nature, women, production and consumption in a single approach” she criticises male scholars who dismiss these as “romantic”. “One might wonder ... what value to these scholars attribute to the right to survival of those communties ... whose subsistence and life system are guaranteed by these practices with nature, while the ‘development proposal’ almost always presupposes the sacrifice of the vast majority of the individuals that constitute these communities.” We have also another, more recent article, that Dalla Costa wrote together with Dario De Bortoli surveying and reflecting on a variety of struggles on land, food and agriculture, this time in a country of the North, Italy. This recent movement is distinct from classical unionism, which fixed working conditions but remained indifferent to what was produced and how, and is centred on a plurality of value problematics, such as “the question of the ends and the sense of peasant labour, a fundamental rethinking of the farmer's activity ... plus of course the ... defence of plant and animal biodiversity and therefore of the raw material of a diversified agriculture. This is a movement that reflects the “collective will of farmers, stockbreeders and citizens (not only as consumers), who have organized to refuse an agriculture and a stockbreeding system that increasingly spreads illness and danger of death.”

Silvia Federici continues this line of argument as she surveys a myriad of contemporary land struggles made by women from the South not only to reappropriate land, but also to boost subsistence farming. It is thanks to these efforts that, she argues billions of people are able to survive. Not only, but in these struggles women show they “valorize” the labour of their children and family members as opposed to the de-valorisation they are subject to within the sexual and international division of labour which make capital accumulation thriving. Ultimately, these struggles point in the direction of the changes needed to regain control of the means of production and a new society, “where reproducing ourselves does not come at the expense of other people, nor is a threat to the continuation of life on the planet.”



The Commoner N.9 - 

Life despite capitalism: The "virtual" and the "actual"


In this issue of The Commoner, we bring together diverse contributions all highlighting what people and communities are up against in creating and sustaining modes of life despite capitalism, whether these modes of life are in the street of Miami, along the rivers of Colombia, emerging from the flows of migrants, or flourishing within the post-scarcity cyberspace. We bridge these with one paper by Ariel Salleh making the case for the need to bring the invisible work of reproduction, what she calls meta-industrial labour, at the center of a Synergistic politics. This labour is characterised by the direct mediation of human and natural cycles whereas productivist labour, is linear and pursues a single goal regardless of consequence. We see this in agribusiness, mining, manufacture, and science as usual, where human instrumental rationality leaves disorder in nature, and human poverty as collateral to it. Globally invisible, meta-industrial work instead maintains the necessary biological infrastructure for all systems of reproduction of livelihoods, but with capitalist expansion, this labour is carried out at growing  material cost to the life conditions of meta-industrials themselves - mostly women.

The first contribution by James W. Lindenschmidt is a detailed analysis of the dynamic of revolution and counter-revolution of cyberspace. Borrowing from the theoretical frameworks of Midnight Notes and of this journal, he explains the nitty-gritty of the creation of virtual commons and the open and subtle strategies promoted by capital to enclose and commodify this space. In this way, it is possible to identify how capital creates scarcity in a post-scarcity virtual space. These enclosures of the virtual commons are not enforced by shotguns or by depleted-uranium missiles. The virtual enclosures are perfectly enforceable, because the rules of enforcement are being architected into the code of the Internet itself. Cyberspace is malleable, and it is increasingly being cast into a space with an infrastructure of built-in, centralized control.

This analysis is echoed by Matthias Studer, who analyzes the free software movement in terms of the theory of gift exchange developed by the M.A.U.S.S. (Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste en Sciences Sociales), a network of researchers developing the insights of the founder of the French school of anthropology, Marcel Mauss who is relatively unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world (see Olivier de Marcellus' article in The Commoner N. 6). The paper provides an insightful analysis of how hackers communities creation of free software gravitate around practices of liberty and cooperation. It discusses the horizontal organizing principles that emerge in these productive communities, what happens to issues such as leadership and hierarchy when freedom is an organizing principle of production, and compares how the logic of gift exchanges differ from the logic of commodity exchanges. And we discover that we do not need to be programmers to be hackers, as one can very well be a hacker in philosophy or astronomy, or even in the politics for another world, for being a hacker is mainly a question of attitude.

Mercedes Moya's contribution, with a contextualising introduction by Olivier de Marcellus, is a gift to us directly from those commons created by rebel slaves setting up communities along Colombian rivers and thus detaching themselves from the world market of the 18th century. As Columbian afro-descendent, she tells us about a struggle for freedom that ended in intimate association with commons, she give us an image of river banks along which the afro-colombians constructed a social identity marked by interdependance with the rivers, lagoons, woods, flatlands, periodic floods, torrential rains, days of sun with rain and days of sun with sun. And she tells us how these commons face up the enclosing force of contemporary global markets and “economic development”. And while the agents of these new enclosures are the state, industry and national or international finance, or violent traffickers and paramilitaries, the attitude of the left (reformist or “revolutionary”) is often not much of help. They are often reluctant to admit the right of this “world” to organise itself autonomously, by its own standards, without sacrifice to the gods of national interest or “development”. Often the left considers communities based on commons as backward, since they measure them in terms of the devastation of natural resources. For these communities instead, the real measure to judge development is common goods and as a vital space of resistance. Our Afro-colombian friend tell us (with a little twinkle in their eye) that white Colombians of the highlands – long since stripped of its tree cover –  point to the fact that the black communities haven’t razed their forests as proof of their inherent laziness...

With Franco Barchiesi's paper, we move from the virtual to the actual space occupied by border police and hiding-out migrants in a context of world-wide enclosures. The impact of international migrations on Western capitalist societies questions their very capacity to define borders and regulate access to citizenship rights, to decide who are citizens and who are not, and what resources citizens can enjoy. Migration in other words, is a social movement that challenges the existing concept of rights. Instead it poses a new understanding of social rights that is linked to de-commodification and the claim for new commons. By cross-contamination and circulation of the struggles of the migrants and of the movements in receiving countries, they can both themselves start seize back what had been taken away from them in the decades of neoliberal restructuring, through struggles that transcend the narrow boundaries of nation-state institutionality.

Amory Starr's contribution is a reminder of what stand in between the space of communities and commons and the strategies of commodification and intensification of global market discipline. It is an account of the events in November 2004, when  US unions and activists planned a large presence at the FTAA/ALCA/ZLEA negotiations in Miami, Florida. The city of Miami bragged that the law enforcement for the events would be a "model" for Homeland Security -- the draconian post-911 federal legislation which created a new agency for anti-terrorism and justified broadbased violation of rights during investigation and prosecution. While activists of all stripes bravely prepared educational events, marches, political art, and direct action to disrupt the legalization and codification of hemispheric corporate plunder, no less than 40 law enforcement agencies violated protesters' rights. Even elders and those attending educational events were targeted. The police plan was to "limit" protest in order to "prevent violence". In practice they created a "deliberate and pervasive pattern of intimidation" including hunting activists violently and indiscriminately for over 30 blocks from the actual meeting site. This police operation seemed intended to terrorize citizens (both participants and observers) from future acts of dissent. Here we present Amory Starr report of the week "Hunted in Miami" as well as the lawsuits filed against the agencies detailing the terrorizing tactics of the police.




The Commoner N.8 - - Autumn/Winter 2004

Around Commons and Autonomy, War and Reproduction



Do commons have a place? Or it is rather, like others have argued, that grassroots globalisation networks constitute a `non-place’ of resistance? Paul Routledge argues that "place" is still a central dimension of social movements. This because "they forge an associational politics" that is constituent of "a diverse, contested coalition of place-specific social movements". In these "convergence spaces" conflict is prosecuted on a "variety of multi-scalar terrains that include both material places and virtual spaces." Is the convergence of struggles in these material and virtual spaces the real constituent force of commons?


David Harvie identifies the commons and communities that make the creative and communicative labour of higher education possible. Increasingly, as we have discussed in other issues of The Commoner, these commons are the target of enclosure strategies. But here David Harvie does not simply denounce these strategies. Instead, he suggests to begin a process of collective self-awareness on what is being enclosed, and what communities are turned into competing nodes. "This exploration of commons and communities within higher education can help us to: identify actually-existing alternatives to market-relations within universities; recognise our own power (power-to); and hence, articulate alternatives to neoliberal strategies for higher education; more effectively fight restructuring; trace the connections with other threads of the anti-capitalist movement(s); and finally, posit a transcendence of capitalist education". 


Werner Bonefeld’s contribution seems to take us away from the problematic of commons and communities, only to return to these with the parallel language of revolution and social autonomy. His argument is that there is no doubt that the end of struggle (human emancipation) must be anticipated by the organisational means of the struggle. And this implies that the ends of revolution "have to be constitutive of the means of resistance." This "social autonomy" as "the organizational form of struggle" is in clear opposition to "forms of organization that derive their rationale from capitalist society and are thus interested only in their own continued existence. "


Social autonomy, organization, communities, commons. These problematics are all there in the text proposed by Colectivo Situaciones. It examines the issues and dilemma of Argentina’s new social subjectivities, by analyzing the events between December 2001 and May 2003. This is the lapse of time ranging from the outbreak of an economic and political crisis without precedents and the pretended normalization of the presidential elections. In between there is the emergence of a rich movement from below (piquetero movements, assemblies, barter clubs, factories occupied by their workers, etc.) which poses many questions. "The intensity of this period - no less than its complexity - has remained beclouded by those who have proclaimed that the results of the elections constitute the death of the movement of counterpower and the erasure of that which opened with the events of December."


If elections are used to normalize and recuperate social autonomy emerging from the street, what about war? George Caffentzis had to tidy his closet this autumn, and he discovered an old manuscript coming from the time in which nuclear annihilation was on the order of the day. Twenty years on, his reflections on the relation between war, capital’s accumulation and reproduction as well as his historical contextualization of the Marxist critique of imperialism, seem to be very much up to date. Because you know, capital is still with us, and there is still a war going on . . .so maybe one could wonder: is there perhaps a link between the two? And if so, does this link have anything to do with the attempt to constitute capitalist social relations of production and reproduction?


Finally, Mariarosa Dalla Costa explores the relation between capital and reproduction and regards the powers of the "actors" of the latter (women, indigenous people and earth) as decisive force "that can lift the increasingly deadly siege capitalist development imposes on human reproduction". She argues that the woman's question, the question of the indigenous populations, and the question of the Earth have close synergies, and thus it is no surprising that in the last two decades they have become of great importance. If the path towards a "different kind of development cannot ignore them" it is because of the many powers (powers to) these subjects have. The many powers of civilisations that have not died "but have managed to conceal themselves" reside in the secrets that "have been maintained thanks to their resistance to the will to annihilate them." The gift of struggles. Also the Earth has "many powers, especially its power to reproduce itself and humanity as one of its parts." And these powers have been "discovered, preserved and enhanced more by women's knowledge than male science". These triple knowledge/powers – of women, of indigenous people and of the earth – should "find a way of emerging and being heard" and act as the decisive force they are.



The Commoner N.7 - Spring/Summer 2003

The "governance" of Imposed Scarcity: 

Money, Enclosures and the Space of Co-operation




In this issue we present two contributions on money and three contributions on neoliberal governance. What do money and neoliberal governance have in common? The Commoner suggests at least one thing: they are both different but complementary ways to organize our lives around the rat race of global competition. In the first article, George Caffentzis writes about the power of money, the ideological underpinning of this power and, most poignantly, how without moments of force and violence, money would have remained a marginal aspect of human history. He also argues that "the cultivation of hostility, suspicion, competition and fear of scarcity (especially the scarcity of money)" are the means though which to enclose spaces for collective discussion and understanding of desires. In this way, money can appear as the only means left to create its own meaning of coincidence of desires.

To produce fear of scarcity in a world of plenty like ours, scarcity must be produced. Matthew Hampton's paper explores capital's production of scarcity through an investigation of the international organization of money after the collapse of Bretton Woods. Here, what many critics refer to as the irrational "casino economy" of massive speculative flows, it is shown to have its own perverse rationality in its link to the flesh and blood substance of capital's accumulation: boundless work through competitive relations among people. Through the continuous allocation of risk, punishments and rewards, financial capital movements across the globe discipline the people of this planet to work harder and demand less, whether they are in homes, fields, factories, or offices. Matthew Hampton's paper explores capital's production of scarcity through an investigation of the international organization of money after the collapse of Bretton Woods. Here, what many critics refer to as the irrational "casino economy" of massive speculative flows, it is shown to have its own perverse rationality in its link to the flesh and blood substance of capital's accumulation: boundless work through competitive relations among people. Through the continuous allocation of risk, punishments and rewards, financial capital movements across the globe discipline the people of this planet to work harder and demand less, whether they are in homes, fields, factories, or offices.

The discipline of capital however has its own contradictions. A central one is the crisis of reproduction of our bodies and minds, our communities and our ecologies. In the last quarter of a century, the combined effects of neoliberal strategies of enclosures and reconfiguration of state provisions away from social welfare into corporate welfare, has coincided with the deepening of these crises and a consequent rapid development of diverse social movements across the globe. It has also created an archipelago of diverse organizations of what is called "civil society". These organizations, in spite of differences, act in a multiplicity of ways to intervene and copying with the crises ¾ whether through campaigns, education or directly intervening in the reorganization of reproduction where the market and the state left a desert.

The effect of this ferment has been to put back on the agenda of public debates the question of meeting the variety of needs of reproduction independent from the needs of the capitalist market. Left on its own devices, this ferment re-opens a space for the collective discussion and understanding of desires, and the definition of the ground for their coincidence independently from accumulation. What a shock for the neoliberal proponents of the pansee' unique! One important strategy used by neoliberal capital to deal with these emergent demands is called, in the modern rhetoric, "governance". Massimo De Angelis explores some of the intricacies of governance ¾ or better neoliberal governance ¾ and argues that it does not represent a paradigm shift away from neoliberalism. Rather it is a discoursive practice that emerges as capital's second line of defense vis-à-vis struggles against enclosures. It is a space in which the needs of reproduction are acknowledged by capital, but commons are deterred or forestalled through the hijacking and entrapment of the values, the words and dreams of the commoners. In governance, the values of sustainability is turned into sustainable profit, social justice is turned into corporate compliance with pitiful minimum wage regulations, democracy and participation is turned into partnership among stakeholders who must accept competitive market norms as de facto unchangeable mode of human interaction.

A detailed example of how these governance strategies develop as a result of social opposition to policies, is studied by Les Levidow in the case of Genetically Modified Food. "The paper exemplifies governance as process management.  For the trans-Atlantic governance of GM food, new procedures were managing conflicts among state and non-state actors, while potentially facilitating regulatory harmonisation of a controversial technological trajectory.  Consumer NGOs did not welcome the advent of GM crops, yet their regulatory demands led their representatives into a political logic of governing these technological products.  In that sense, governance provides a neoliberal means to manage socio-political conflicts by incorporating dissent into a collective problem-definition, while excluding other accounts of the problem.  Yet it remains a difficult task of process management, whose outcome still depends upon political struggle."

That governance discourse can be used to entrap social flows of desires and creativity into market values and accumulation is also clear in the contribution by Andrew Robinson and Simon Tormey. The authors discuss the recent UK labour government White Paper on higher education, heavily permeated by the language of "Third Way" and "partnership" and in which universities are portrayed and constructed as competitors within a global market and thus must learn to behave like corporations do. "Instead of academics working across international boundaries to improve knowledge and wellbeing", note the authors,  "academics need now to ask themselves not what is the value of their research, but rather what is the “exchange value” of their research? If research cannot be `spun-out', `transferred', used as an `incubator' or in some other exploited by `local and regional partnerships' then the clear message it is research that is not `worth' anything, and should be stopped.  The desire to make `breakthroughs' is not itself a valid reason for undertaking research." Hence, when Charles Clarke ¾ the education secretary ¾ says he wants to `mobiliz[e]… the imagination, creativity, skills and talents of all our people' and `to help turn ideas into successful businesses' . . . , it is clear that he is engaged in a logic of entrapment.  Creative energies are to be harnessed, for a single goal: capitalist control" and the "reduction of the educational ‘commons’ to the status of vocational training for the needs of business"




 The Commoner N.6 - Winter 2003

What alternatives? Commons and Communities, Dignity and Freedom!   



The global justice and solidarity movement (and all its articulations) is increasingly posing the question of alternatives. In this issue of The Commoner we provide contributions on this issue. Several of these pieces (those of Massimo De Angelis, Olivier De Marcellus, Franco Barchiesi and Peter Waterman) were presented at a workshop on "Commons and Communities" during last European Social Forum in Florence, November 2002. Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s two papers are older, but still very much relevant to this debate. She also presented the themes of her papers at the workshop in Florence. Finally, John Holloway’s contribution is the only one in this list that was missing in Florence, but the question of dignity he poses is obviously central to any discourse on alternatives.

Despite the differences in emphasis, language or  strategic priorities, a common theme among the contributions seems to be that, in a sense, the question of alternatives is not very difficult after all. To the enclosure of land, water, services, education, knowledge, we counterpoise different forms of commons. To the enforcement of competitive relations in every sphere of life and within and across places,  we counterpoise the construction of local and trans-local communities based on inclusion, respect, horizontality and participation. To the indignity of consumerism and lack, scarcity and dependency, we counterpoise the dignity of plenty, autonomy, gift and conviviality. To the freedom of choice from a menu imposed on us by impersonal market forces and their engineers, we counterpoise the freedom to decide the menu itself: how and what we produce? what and how much to add to our production? and what and how much to subtract to it? Since we can exercise this freedom only collectively, we must learn to make decisions collectively, we must learn that democracy is not only voting but participating, and participating is not only  giving an opinion but also doing and therefore accessing resources. If it so simple then, why do we make it so difficult?




The Commoner N.5 - Autumn 2002




Global recession, famine, AIDS, global warming, war and poverty : to list the
instances of crises today could be an encyclopedic enterprise; the list could
get longer and longer by the day. The crises that pervade the expanded
reproduction of the fabric of global capitalist control (see the article by
Peter Bell and Harry Cleaver) can only be plural, as plural are the social
powers that long for liberation. Not one, but a plurality of crises challenge
the dogma of capitalist accumulation. Crises are bottlenecks, point of
rupture in the life-energy circuit feeding the beast, but they are also
ruptures in our reproduction (the meaning of this crisis of reproduction is
discussed by
George Caffentzis). These bottlenecks mostly serve to discipline
us, to make us accept more "efficient" work norms and more "moderate" claims
to social wealth. But the use of crisis as a disciplinary device is also
facing a crisis; this is true of the strategies of financial liberalization
discussed by
Conrad Harold. The crisis of crisis:  this can be a  point of
entry to a new dimension, the opportunity to explore new politics and new
social practices beyond capitalism (see e.g.
Ana Dinerstain's article on the
current struggles in Argentina). It can also be the return to old regimes of
oppression (as indicated by
Werner Bonefeld in the case of the European
monetary union). Thus, from the perspective of the transcendence of
capitalism, in the crisis reside simultaneously a danger and an
opportunity--the opportunity stemming from the inability of the old ways to
reproduce life, satisfy needs, meet aspirations. However, this opportunity
cannot be defined in abstract. Real subjects, with real and concrete needs
and aspirations, define its content and character, establish avenues of
recomposition among themselves and overcome divisions. Every epoch discovers
its own ways to meet the challenge.
Steve Wright's contribution from his new
book explores the "workerist" tendency's reading of earlier working class
struggles in Germany, the United States, and elsewhere, and the ways in which
the 'other' workers' movements there sought to overcome the divisions imposed
upon them by capital and the state.




The Commoner N.4

Enclosures, power, commons



Each of the articles in this number of The Commoner addresses one particular facet of the strategic and theoretical nodes we need to tackle in order to change the world: the polarity between enclosures and commons and their link, power. We start with two pieces on power and hope to contribute in this way to raise a debate within global movements on the question of  how another world is possible? For this we are glad to be able to publish the entire chapter 3 from John Holloway latest book: Change the world without taking power, published by Pluto Press earlier this year. The chapter addresses the fundamental questions of revolutionary politics today. According to Holloway, the “revolutionary challenge” we face at the beginning of the XXI century is to raise the stake of revolutionary politics and “to change the world without taking power”. By clinging on “how to hold on to power”, traditional concepts of revolutions have been aiming too low, and for that reason they have failed. The  problem with this traditional notions of revolution is that the real aim of revolution is “to dissolve relations of power, to create a society based on the mutual recognition of people’s dignity.” Today, “the only way in which revolution can now be imagined is not as the conquest of power but as the dissolution of power”. But how can we change the world without taking power? Well, read this piece on “beyond power” and the accompanying twelve theses summarizing the argument of the book.

Ruth Rikowskis article takes us on one of the fronts of the battle against modern enclosures in the form of the privatization of services promoted by global neoliberal capital. In particular, the author  considers the implications of the WTO/GATS agenda (World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services) for public libraries in England and charts the early stages of the capitalisation of public library services in this region. It examines the capitalisation process within three main categories – commercialisation, privatisation and capitalisation. Income generation is one example of commercialisation. PFI (private finance initiative) and private companies running a library at a lower cost than the price they are contracted to run them are examples of privatisation (the latter has just started to happen in libraries in the London Borough of Haringey). Capitalisation is a process that deepens over time, with libraries becoming sites for capital accumulation and profit making. Commericalisation and privatisation feed off each other and deepen in the capitalisation process. Continual library reviews provide an example of the capitalisation process. Some of the facilitators that will enable this process to take effect are then considered. These are referred to as the national faces of the GATS.  Best Value, Library Standards and the Peoples’ Network are analysed and the author shows how these mechanisms are enabling the GATS to take effect in our public libraries in England.

  In the final article, Richard Barbrook explores emerging commons in cyberspace. Richard Barbrook explores emerging commons in cyberspace. In the mid-1990s, neo-liberals claimed that state regulation of the Net was impossible. Free markets would create free speech. This libertarian rhetoric lost its appeal as increasing numbers of people started swapping music and video files over the Net. Free speech meant free gifts. In the early-2000s, neo-liberals are now demanding more state regulation of the Net to protect intellectual property. Free markets depend upon economic censorship. However, this attempt to regulate the Net in the interests of intellectual property is already failing. In the digital age, media exists both as commodities and gifts - and hybrids of the two.




The Commoner N.3

Reclaiming the body



There is a common thread running through the diverse articles collected in this issue of The Commoner. What ties them together is what we may refer to as the struggle over the body. The body is the centre of human power, the material powerhouse of humanity. The control over the body is the control over the entire fabric of social life. Around the politics of the body we find the entire horizon of the polarity between alternatives: on one side human beings powering accumulation through work (which can only be based on various forms of “power over the other” as manifested in capitalist mechanisms); on the other side (to put it with Marx), "human power as its own end" which can only take the form of a free association of human individuals, an association in which 'the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all'. 

The enclosure of the body is not only a particular form of enclosure among others. As all enclosures, also that of the body is founded on a separation. But while in traditional enclosures we are talking about a separation between an external materiality (land, entitlements, etc.) and people, here the same separation is reproduced at a deeper level between the materiality of our physical and social existence, and the spirituality of our human condition, that which defines us as fundamentally free and self-determining. In other words, the enclosure of the body is the means to channel human self-determination and creative spirit into external, alien ends. It defines the alienation of human beings in relation to each other and their species.

For this reason, enclosing the body aims at defining subjects and their integration within the circuit of social capital and accumulation. Here, we cooperate through endless competition, and this alien form of cooperation allows certainly to decentralise power through the social body, but only to the extent power is recentered in the person, if the person is reconstructed as a micro-state, as Silvia Federici, echoing Foucault, argues in her paper in the case of the Cartesian model. Frederick Hayek, the champion of modern neoliberalism, from his perspective argues the same when he identifies the relation between the competitive whole and individual freedom, as one of discipline and emergence. The truth is that control of social flows over the social body, can only occur through mechanisms that presuppose behavioural and aspirational parameters, parameters that are not posed by self-determining individuals in free association with each other, but structured by always renewing disciplinary mechanisms. The recurrent creation of these parametric structures of values and aspirations forming the subject is the strategic aim of always-new disciplinary practices. We must disagree with Gilles Deuleze on this point: there is no transcendence of the disciplinary society; there is no emergence of the control society. In capitalist societies, control and discipline (in historically specific forms corresponding to different phases) have always been intertwined in a relation of mutual dependence centred on strategies to enclose the body, to channel human power to the end of endless accumulation.

Historically, as Silvia Federici  argues in her paper, the original enclosure of the body passes through the relation with magic, as the latter regarded the body a power that was incompatible with capitalist work. “`Magic kills industry,' lamented Francis Bacon admitting that nothing repelled him so much as the assumption that one could obtain results with a few idle expedients, rather than with the sweat of one’s brow". In her contribution, Silvia Federici shows that "magic rested upon a qualitative conception of space and time that precluded a regularization of the labour process". Also, it was based on a conception of the cosmos that attributed special power and special value to the individual, both equally incompatible with alien power and devaluation of individuals brought about by the capitalist work-discipline. She thus discusses the bourgeoisie’s "original attempt to form a new type of individual in that battle against the body that has become its historic mark." This new individual has to be compatible with endless accumulation as the ultimate purpose of life. The individual has to sustain a life activity as work, in the attempts to break the barriers of nature "by lengthening the working day beyond the limits set by the sun, the seasonal cycles, and the body itself, as it was constituted in pre-industrial society."

Subordinating the individual to the capitalist-work discipline through the enclosure of the body also means to think the individual as a sensuousless being, to conceptualise the body as a means to an end, to construct objectivity emptied of spirit that is of senses and self-determination. This is the enlightenment project. In this paper, Cyril Smith criticises the conventional strands of Marxism and argue that Marx was not an author of the enlightenment. In the enlightenment, freedom is confined to the removal of external natural restrictions on the individual, and objectivity defined by expunging everything subjective, like feeling, will or free, creative activity. Marx, Cyril Smith argues, was opposed to this project of the enlightenment as he worked to demonstrate that to live humanly, in a manner 'worthy of and appropriate to our human nature' (Capital, Vol. 3), would mean a free association of human individuals, an association in which 'the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all'. He showed that a human way of life is incompatible with private property, wage-labour, money and the state, but is actually in accord with nature, and how humanity, at whose heart lies free, creative social activity, emerges from what appears to be the blind activity of nature.

The link between the enclosures of the body of yesterday with the politics of today is that we cannot have alternative(s) without reclaiming the body, the power over our own power. Not only, but because in the enclosures of the body we define our isolation and alienation from the other, the social political process constituted in the act of reclaiming the body is the hard core of politics. Because it aims at defining a new relation with the other, it has to go through “new combinations” constituting new communities. The question of community, which together with the one of the commons constitutes the central question of emancipation, is all here, in the politics of the body. Reclaiming the body means to reclaim the relation between spirit and matter, between freedom and life. However, we can find the positive aspect of the project of self-management, autonomy, freedom, only when we stop to treat the self as property, that is when it is inserted in a social and communitarian project that is not finalized to accumulation, and especially when in is not a state, nor an abstract mechanism as the market, that determines the directive, finalities and modalities of self-management.

This topic of "new combinations" is discussed by Nick Dyer-Witheford who goes through a tour de force in combining recent theoretical contributions on empire and the global factory with the emergence of  "global value subjects".  The latter designates the "creative, nature-transforming agents on whose cooperative activity capital depends for the creation of surplus value, at points including but also now exceeding the immediate point of production."  In the terms conceptualised in this introduction, the value subjects are, struggling over the body. As constituting values that are other than those of the capitalist market and at the same time as subjects creating capitalist values and therefore object of the disciplinary market strategies of capital, the challenge faced by the global value subjects in the constitution of "new combinations", is not simply how to be a spectre haunting capital to its deconstructive discomfort, but also how to shape  an "exit towards the future.”  These spectral struggles are an issue of "which values will become materialized, and which be consigned to the vaporous world of phantasms; of who will make a spectre of whom; of what will die and what will live; of whose incantations will command the magic circle of the globe."

As the enclosure of the body is the attempt to tame self-determination and freedom and channel it to market priorities, the restrictions of spaces of critical engagement and intellectual growth and their subordination to accumulation is the hidden agenda of the enclosures in higher education. In his contribution, Les Levidow discusses the recent neoliberal strategies aimed at merketising higher education. The market here is naturalised and presented as an unstoppable force to which students and staff must bow. By studying the cases of Africa, USA, and UK, the paper argues that neoliberal strategies in higher education are based on pre-empting potential alternatives to the market by fetishising the preferred metaphor as a property of technology. This allows to throw people into more intense competition with each other on a global scale, thus preventing people from deciding collectively 'what they do best' and what kind of economic relations to develop with each other.




The Commoner n.2

Enclosures: the mirror image of alternatives


The articles collected in this second issue of The Commoner deal with some aspects of the multi faced reality of "enclosures". The reality of enclosures, in the Marxist tradition also referred to as "primitive accumulation", is of fundamental theoretical and political importance, as it not only defines the precondition of capital's existence, but also helps to disclose the secret of alternatives to capitalism, or at least a substantial part of it. In a moment when the global anti-capitalist movement is on the rise and the global economy is preparing for a new wave of restructuring (always associated with enclosures in one form or another) following the incoming recession, we thought that the debate over strategies and alternatives within the movement would benefit by a reflection on the hidden meaning of the capitalist strategies we are fighting against. <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O />

Conceptually, enclosures refer to the separation that results from commodification, the crazy separation between human life and the conditions of human life, between the doing and the deed, between creative freedom and socially created objects, between human condition and its natural context, between social cooperation and its products. These dichotomies must be reconciled to make human life possible. In presence of this separation, money and the capitalist market act as the impersonal things that transcend this separation to make social cooperation possible, but in a form ¾ the capitalist "economy" ¾ that bears the mark of, and reproduces, the violent separation of enclosures. In practice therefore, enclosures imply the creation of the rule of things over human beings, implying the rule of force by the state, as well as the elaboration of strategies by the capitalist apologists.

In the first of the contributions here proposed, Micheal Perelman explores the origin of the relation between enclosures and classical political economy (e.g. Adam Smith, David Ricardo, etc.). Alongside their work on pure economic theory promoting their laissez faire ideology, the classical political economists engaged on a parallel project:  to promote the forcible reconstruction of society to remake it into their a purely market oriented society. Thus, the classical political economists actively advocated brutal measures to deprive people of any alternative to wage labor.

Two hundred years later, the same brutality is advocated by modern neoliberal economists and implemented by national governments under the constant vigilance of global economic institutions such as the IMF, the WB and the WTO among others. The  article reprinted here from Midnight Notes N. 10 (1990), posed the issue of  "New Enclosures" in a time when neoliberalism did not meet the opposition it meets today. The article exposes the corrosive secret hidden in the gleaming idols of globalism, the end of the "cold war" blocs and Gaian ecological consciousness: the 1980s and, we add today, the 1990s have seen the largest Enclosure of the worldly Common in history. This article explains the meaning and importance of Enclosures, both Old and New, in the planetary struggle of classes.

An exemplification of today's enclosures is provided by Silvia Federici's contribution, appeared in 1990 in the same issue of Midnight Notes. Criticising both Right and Left positions in the controversy over the debt crisis, she argues that they both share the same assumption, namely that the debt crisis is an obstacle to capitalist development. Instead, focussing on Africa's Debt crisis, Silvia Federici points at the relation between debt and New Enclosures and argues that the debt crisis has been a productive crisis for the capitalist classes of both the debtor and the creditor nations in that it has been used by capital to shift the balance of forces to its side on both poles of the debt relation.

If two hundred years of capitalist development have not been sufficient to end enclosures, evidently the latter are endemic in the capitalist mode of production. This run counter Marxist traditional interpretation that regarded primitive accumulation as the historical process that gave birth to the preconditions of a capitalist mode of production. Massimo De Angelis here argues that in Marx's theoretical framework, primitive accumulation is not just an event confined to a historical past, but a continuous aspect of capitalist production. The continuous character of the separation between people and means of production is due to the recurrent limits posed on capitalist accumulation by social struggles and the recurrent drive of capital to extend its sphere of domination over life. While De Angelis constructs the continuity argument focussing on strategies and power relations, Werner Bonefeld reaches the same conclusion by discussing primitive accumulation as the foundation of the capitalist social relations and thus the social constitution through which the exploitation of labour subsists. Since the divorce between means of production and people is the presupposition on which the capitalist exploitation of labour rests, then primitive accumulation it is the presupposition of capital and the result of its reproduction.

It goes without saying that these articles do not exhaust the theoretical and political issues concerning enclosures. One important question that this issue of The Commoner has left out, is how theoretically and historically enclosures are linked to the division between production of commodities and reproduction of labour power, and to the new sexual division of labour rooted upon it. In other words, the passage to capitalism has not only divorced producers from the means of production but, to the extent that production and reproduction were socially and sexually differentiated, it also separated production from reproduction, men from women, waged work from unwaged work. This is of course of paramount importance for at least three reasons. First, to understand the novel character of the functioning of the wage-form, defined and functioning not only as a way to accumulate waged labour, but also, as a means to accumulate and command unwaged labour. Second, to understand unwaged labour as structural to capitalist production, and providing therefore a novel meaning to the concept of "wage slavery". In this sense, slavery appears not as an aberrant strategy in relation to the regime of waged labour, but it constitutes its foundation. Third, to articulate the issues of  the division of labour in terms of specialisation with those of the division within the proletariat in terms of access to social resources and wages. And of course, how and in what forms all this is relevant today, within the context of XXI century global capitalism, and in presence of new movements and new social practices?

Furthermore, there is then the question of the enclosure of the body, of the separation between passions and interests, reason and needs, economic calculus and desires. Linked to this, there is of course the process of subjectification analysed by Foucault, that is the multiplicity of micro strategies of power aimed at creating docile subjects, and therefore the basis of capitalist process of integration. How are they operating today in the framework of the global market? But above all, we need to tackle the limits faced by this process of subjectification: to what extent micro and macro strategies of struggles are today challenging neoliberal integration? On the issues linking the question of enclosures with these and other relevant themes, we are planning another special issue of the commoner to be published in the near future.

Despite its limitations, we believe the selection that The Commoner is proposing helps to frame the question of enclosures. All contributions share one thing: enclosures are a continuous feature of capitalist development. We believe this opens two crucial political questions. First, there is a common ground between different phenomenal forms of strategies of enclosures (read neoliberal polices), and therefore today peoples of the North, East and South are facing possibly phenomenally different but substantially similar strategies of separation from the means of existence. Second, enclosures are always enclosures of commons. Often, we may not like the ways these commons are administrated, or the bureaucratic layers people may be subjected to in gaining access to rights and entitlements. Certainly, the state, when forced to concede to popular pressures, has always tried to turn concessions into instruments of control. We cannot enter here in the details of the taxonomy of existing commons and their limitations and contradictions. But the point is that the struggles arising in defence of existing forms of commons against neoliberal policies are never just defensive struggles, they open a space for public debate and mutual reformulation of the meaning that we want to give to commons. Because enclosures are always enclosures of commons, the growing global anti-capitalist movement, which largely is a movement against enclosures and their effect, give us the opportunity to go to counter attack and pose the essential question of alternatives: the issue of the direct access of the means of existence, production and communication, the issue of what commons do we want and how we want to organise our sociality around them. It follows therefore that  reflections on the forms and meaning of commons always imply correspondent reflection on the form and meaning of community.


 photograph by Steve Walker

photograph by Steve Walker

the commoner

In the beginning there is the doing, the social flow of human interaction and creativity, and the doing is imprisoned by the deed, and the deed wants to dominate the doing and life, and the doing is turned into work, and people into things. Thus the world is crazy, and revolts are also practices of hope.

This journal is about living in a world in which the doing is separated from the deed, in which this separation is extended in an increasing numbers of spheres of life, in which the revolt about this separation is ubiquitous. It is not easy to keep deed and doing separated. Struggles are everywhere, because everywhere is the realm of the commoner, and the commoners have just a simple idea in mind: end the enclosures, end the separation between the deeds and the doers, the means of existence must be free for all!





The Commoner - about us:

editor: Massimo De Angelis thanks to everyone who has contributed to the journal with writing, comments, suggestions and pictures.
design: Gioacchino Toni
print design: James Lindenschmidt




Emma Dowling and Ben Trott, Bono-Fication: the Political Economy of Making Poverty History


Midnight Notes and friends. Migration, Movements, Wages and War in the Americas: Reasons for Unity on May Day 2006 - And After


Phil McLeish. The Promise of the European Social Forum 

Massimo De Angelis. The  First London Social Forum. What have we achieved?

Massimo De Angelis. Another world is possible. How? A short talk to the First Danish Social Forum, Copenhagen, 31 October 2003.

Amory Starr.  j23. sacramento 2003. action report/fieldnotes.

Laura Corradi. Black Bloc The Ultimate Logo 

Steve Wright. Pondering Information and Communication in Contemporary Anti-Capitalist Movements

Peter Waterman. Reflections on the 2nd World Social Forum in Porto Alegre: What's Left Internationally?

Peter Waterman. The Still Unconsummated Marriage of International Unionism and the Global Justice Movement. A Labor Report on the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre

The Leeds May Day Group. Anti-Capitalist Movements.

Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis. Genoa and the Antiglobalization Movement.

Olivier De Marcellus. Against globalisation: some old problems and a new kind of movement.

Massimo De Angelis. From Movement to Society.



George Caffentzis. Is Truth Enough?

(no)war  - The purpose of this site is to provide a brief list of online materials that might prove useful if read critically. 1. Background on Iraq  2. Seeking to explain the current conflict  3. Opposition to the war 4. The military dimension  5. Uprisings in Iraq  6. Exploring further. This page edited in cooperation with Steve Wright.

George Caffentzis. No War for Oil: The Political Economy of the War on Iraq!

George Caffentzis. From Stealing to Robbing:
A Post-Script to "No Blood for Oil!"

Werner Bonefeld. Against the War and the Preconditions of War

Midnight Notes. Respect Your Enemies -- The First Rule of Peace: An Essay Addressed to the U.S. Anti-War Movement

Les Levidow. Terrorising Dissent: the Neoliberal 'Anti-terrorist' Strategy

George Caffentzis. In the US, Dreaming of Iraq. Preface 2002: The Political Economy of "the War on Terrorism"

Massimo De Angelis. W-TINA-W' (war-there is no alternative-more war)

Les Levidow. A Broad Anti-War Campaign to Oppose Fully the 'New Kind of War'

George Caffentzis. Crime or War?: The Consequences of Competing Descriptions of September 11

George Caffentzis. Essay on the Events of September 11, 2001 Addressed to the Antiglobalization Movement